Getty to return Roman fresco fragment to Italy

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In its latest effort to return wayward ancient artworks to their rightful owners, the J. Paul Getty Museum will send a Roman fresco fragment to Italy. The fragmentary panel, a roughly 36-by-32-inch section of a wall painting made in the third quarter of the 1st century BC, joined the museum's collection in 1996 as a gift of New York collectors Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman.

The museum --- which has returned 39 antiquities to Italy since 2007 -- listed the fragment as "at some risk of forfeiture" and stated its appraised value at the time of donation as $150,000 in a 2005 internal assessment, compiled during an investigation of objects that might have been illegally exported.

But Getty officials didn't decide to repatriate the fragment until about a year ago, when an image of it appeared in a catalog published by the Italian Ministry of Culture, said Karol Wight, the Getty's curator of antiquities.

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